Visiting refugee centres
Over the past couple days I have been attempting to contact various organizations and individuals that might be able to assist me in visiting the facilities where migrants end up when they land in Malta. A short run-down on "refugee camps" in Malta:
There are two types of these facilites: "Closed Centres" or "Detention Centres" are reportedly similar to prisons and are guarded by military or police. These Centres are generally located in remote areas of Malta, away from urban settlements (which is of course relative considering the tiny size of the island). All migrants who end up in Malta illegally are held in Closed Centres until their refugee status is determined. This can take up to a maximum of 18 months.
Once migrants leave the Closed Centres, they are transferred to one of the "Open Centres," where, as the name implies, they can move at will within Malta. While staying in an Open Centre, the migrants receive a monthly allowance of 130 EUR for food and sundries. They continue to receive this allowance as long as they sign-in at the Centre 3 times a week. Open Centres are located closer to urban areas (the largest, Marsa Open Centre, is near Valletta) and migrants are free to look for what little work is available. The conditions at Open Centres are apparently somewhat better than those at the Closed Centres however, as this article shows, even Open Centres can be pretty atrocious places.
It's really difficult to say if I'll have any luck arranging a visit to any of the Centres while in Malta. At the very least, it would be great to set up some meetings with people from organizations that have worked with migrants and in the Centres. I worry a little bit that I don't have enough time to arrange anything before I leave for Malta but I'm still going to give my best attempt. So far I have emailed a number of organizations and individuals and I will post their contact information tomorrow.
Wöske, Heide. Report on the visit to Malta by the American group 'New Sanctuary Movement' from Tucson / Arizona (26/4/2009 –1/5/2009)." http://www.kirchenasyl.de/1_start/English/Woeske-Malta%20Migration%20Report,%20August%202009.pdf Accessed 26 September 2010.